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What is filariasis?

Filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is a tropical infectious parasitic disease that affects the lymph nodes and lymph vessels. It has spread to approximately 81 countries across the world, mainly in countries like India and Africa. This condition is the cause of permanent disability around the world.

  • It is diagnosed with a blood test to check the presence of worms
  • Spreads through animals or insects
  • Affects more males than females

How does filariasis spread?

Filariasis or filaria is caused by several round, coiled, and thread-like parasitic worms that belong to the filaria family. This disease spreads from person to person by mosquito bites, contributing the most to filariasis causes. When a mosquito bites a person who has filariasis, the worms enter and infect it and then when it bites another healthy person, the microscopic worms are transmitted via the skin and grow into adult worms in the host. They form nests in the lymphatic system, which is an important part of the immune system.

There are eight different types of filariasis worms, out of which three are responsible for causing the disease: Wucheria bancrofti and Brugia malayi cause lymphatic filariasis, and Onchocera volvulus causes onchocerciasis (river blindness). You can opt for a Filaria test to confirm filariasis symptoms.

Ages affected: between 0–40 - rare; above 40 - often.

What are the common filariasis symptoms?

Common filariasis symptoms are seen four to twelve months after infection and include:

  • Swelling and inflammation in genitals and extremities
  • Fever, pain, and swelling of lymph glands
  • A headache and inflammation of the lymph drainage areas● Swelling of the scrotum (called ‘hydrocele’), skin rashes, and blindness

A majority of patients suffer from damage of the lymph nodes and around 40% have kidney damage.

If you notice any of these filariasis symptoms, consult a general physician immediately to get yourself treated.

How is a filariasis diagnosis done?

A general practitioner is likely to check for the disease through a blood test. You can also opt for a filaria test. The worms are many a time, active at night and hence, the test needs to be carried out at night for them to be visible under the microscope.

What happens in a filariasis treatment?

Self-Care: A filaria treatment at home includes washing and soaping the swollen area, using antibacterial or antifungal cream on the wound, exercising the swollen arms or legs to improve the lymph flow, and using bandages to reduce accumulation of fluids.

Medicines: Your general physician may prescribe a microfilaricidal medicine to kill worms.

General practitioners: For other kinds, you may consult a general doctor or a physician. At mfine, you can get your blood sample collected from home and have the reports sent to you for doctor consultation.

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